The sister wives travelled to Boston to speak publicly about their lifestyle. Danielle, the professor from an earlier episode, set up a panel discussion to allow religion students and faculty members to ask questions. The oldest four kids went along to join them on the panel, and to tour some east coast universities.
Kody, especially, was quite nervous about it. He expressed his concern that someone would accuse him of being a bad person, of exploiting and controlling his wives, and compare him to Warren Jeffs. He was worried that he might become reactive and defensive if the audience was hostile. I think that, based on some of the things that he’s said, this is a valid concern! Kody is genuine and open-hearted and willing to just be out there, and I like these qualities, but sometimes he isn’t so aware of how others will perceive what he says.
The discussion turned out to be pretty benign and tolerant. There were some questions that alluded to Warren Jeffs and the polygamy compounds, but the audience seemed quite respectful. It was the Browns who brought up Jeffs directly, stressing how much they are not like him. Robyn even got quite emotional in describing her reaction to the news articles she’s read, and talking about wanting to rescue the women from the FLDS compounds.
One woman even said that Kody must be a hell of a man, since most men couldn’t deal with four women. She almost seemed to be flirting with him as she said it!
Janelle seemed much more animated and articulate in this episode than she’s been lately. Even though she tends to be the shy one of the sister wives, in this episode she seemed to have some of the best things to say, and be very astute at understanding how outsiders might see their family. As the most successful career woman in the group, she has some skills that aren’t getting used right now, and it seemed to bring her out to do this panel.
The Brown teenagers were real and approachable, and it probably helped people accept the situation that the kids were not all definitely planning to be polygamous later in life. Madison was quite forthright about not feeling liking the idea of having sister wives.
Aspyn said that it seemed to her like a difficult way of life. This was obviously telling, since she’s seen it from the inside. I can appreciate this — from my perspective, embracing this lifestyle for idealistic reasons only would be difficult, and probably would not work well in most cases. I believe that for a woman, you have to have some personal attraction to having sister wives for their own sake for it to really be a happy choice.
Going out from ice cream with some of the students, Logan said that Kody had told him his life would be miserable if he tried to do polygamy just to follow in his father’s footsteps. As well as being very true, I could feel the fatherly wisdom and love in that statement. As much as people are eager to think that a polygamous situation is just what any man would want, it’s a lot of work for the guy, and it is an unusual one who can make it work and be happy doing it.
Danielle arranged for a dinner with a few of her students. This included a gay man, who was immediately up front about his sexual orientation, saying he hadn’t been sure how they’d react to him. The Browns were very accepting, even commiserating with him about being discriminated against.
I think it is great that the Sister Wives family can be so open-minded, but in reality, I wonder if there is more to this story. In my understanding, it’s likely that most Mormons and FLDS are accepting and decent to most people, while still voting and actively campaigning against gay rights in general, since I think homosexuality is very much against their belief system. Still, I believe the Browns were very sincere in their friendliness and openness with this gay man, and I think it was a very positive PR move to address this issue, especially with all the bad press the Mormon church has gotten for this lately.